Ariola Celebrated at Surprise Inauguration Ceremony

 Ariola Celebrated at Surprise Inauguration Ceremony

By Katie McFadden

It’s hard to surprise a woman who seems to have her finger on the pulse of everything going on, but Councilwoman Joann Ariola’s shocked face showed it all as she walked into her surprise inauguration ceremony at P.S. 207Q in Howard Beach on the morning of Monday, January 29. Her mouth dropped as she stepped into an auditorium full of friends, family, staff, and community and government partners who all gathered to celebrate the councilwoman and wish her continued success as she continues to lead District 32 in the City Council.

After the initial shock, Councilwoman Joann Ariola joined some of those partners on the dais, including Chief Advisor to the Mayor of NYC Ingrid Martin, Council Members Vickie Paladino, Inna Vernikov, Kalman Yeger, Julie Menin, Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh, Chief of the FDNY John Hodgins, retired NYS Supreme Court Justice Augustus Agate, NYPD Chief of Queens Borough South Kevin Williams, District 27 Superintendent David Norment, P.S. 207Q Principal Lisa Nevins and others, along with her honored guest, her mother, Theresa. The FDNY ceremonial unit ushed in the color guard as Nicole Cicero sang the “National Anthem,” and Rabbi Levi Osdoba led an opening prayer.

Ariola’s Chief of Staff, Phyllis Inserillo, who organized the surprise ceremony, opened by singing the praises of the councilwoman. “As we watch the city we love battle trying times, it is hard not to notice who is part of the force that is keeping our heads above the water,” Inserillo said. “Walking around District 32, one might not notice these battles going on in our city because our streets are clean, crime is minimal and there are so many fun, exciting and meaningful events happening in our schools and our communities and that is because we have the strongest force among us—Councilwoman Joann Ariola.”

She was followed by Ingrid Martin, who spoke on behalf of the mayor, saying, “It’s very hard in government to have real partners, dedicated partners. I am proud to say that your council member is just that. She is on the pulse of what is necessary for her community, and she advocates strongly for the community. We may not always agree, but we always find a way to work in partnership to do what’s best for her constituency who supported her, and who supported the mayor,” Martin said.

Deputy Inspector Carlos Fabara, former commander of Rockaway’s 100th Precinct, spoke about Ariola’s support for police across the city, and her friendship. “Anybody that knows Councilwoman Ariola knows that she’s a fighter. Joann backs the blue like nobody else. Your leadership has been exceptional, and your friendship has been truly special,” Fabara said.

Fabara was joined by Mario Faulisi, who helped with Ariola’s re-election campaign, Lisa Nevins, principal of P.S. 207, who spoke about how influential Ariola has been on the schools, FDNY representative Matthew Connor of Bravest for Choice, who spoke of Ariola’s advocacy for city workers who lost their jobs due to the Covid vaccine mandate, and Commander John Lawless of the Woodhaven American Legion Post 118 and Adjunct David Valentin, who presented Ariola with a Certificate of Appreciation from the Legion. Ariola dedicated that honor to her late grandfather, Walter, a U.S. Marine.

Liam Theis, student body president of P.S. 47 in Broad Channel, spoke about what an inspiration the councilwoman is to him. “I had heard from people that Councilwoman Ariola did not win the first time she ran, but the important thing was that she was persistent and tried again,” he said, adding that his aunt now works in her office. “I know that she loves what she does because she always has a smile on her face,” Theis continued.

Theis was asked to speak as Ariola has gone throughout District 32 to swear in members of student government in local schools. In turn, the student council of P.S. 207 was asked to guide Councilwoman Ariola through her Oath of Office as she put her hand on a bible.

Ariola gave a speech thanking every who helped support her throughout her campaign runs in 1996, 2001, 2021 and 2023, her family, her staff, and the partners she works with. “I can’t thank you enough for having the faith in me and electing me to be your representative. When I say it is my honor and privilege to do so, I really, truly mean that,” Ariola said. “We still have a lot of battles ahead of us and again, we will fight these battles together, but I promise you, with the help of you, of my staff, of amazing guides, we will come out victorious. I will keep fighting tooth and nail for each and every one of my constituents happily, with a smile, and I will keep doing everything I can to maintain the quality of life that I promised you the day you filled in that little dot next to my name.”

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